I asked someone I know in Russia for their perspective on Russia attacking Ukraine.
Here’s how the conversation unfolded (shared with permission):
ME: What is your take on the Ukraine situation?
THEM: It’s very hard to explain. It is a war. And it’s very scary. All my colleagues are very quiet today. They have been all day. Usually we are always discussing something or another.
ME: Are you, and Russians in general, supportive of Putin’s actions or do people think it is unnecessary?
THEM: Supportive?! Are you kidding? Of course not. Why would I be? People suffer from war. And now prices are quickly rising for all everyday life items. Salaries are not rising though and so the standard of living is falling.
ME: Yes, I don’t see how anyone benefits from any of this. Feels like an ego trip for Putin. Is that how you see it?
THEM: Of course, this is not for ordinary people.
Though this is only one person, it was helpful to get a perspective from someone on the ground in Russia. One of the ‘ordinary people’. War is waged by those in power but it is the ordinary people who it affects—even when it is your country being the aggressor.
The conversation also revealed something else I hadn’t appreciated. My contact told me, “Almost every person in Russia has relatives in Ukraine.” Which is why this from an article in The Economist makes sense:
Mr Putin can’t tell his people that his army is fighting against their Ukrainian brothers and sisters who gained freedom. So he is telling them that Russia is at war with America, nato and its proxies.
The article goes on to say:
The abominable truth is that Mr Putin has launched an unprovoked assault on the sovereign country next door. He is obsessed with the defensive alliance to its west. And he is trampling the principles that underpin peace in the 21st century.
What a devastating situation our world is now in!
On a separate but related note, I found an article by Diana Butler Bass helpful on shining a light on the religious history that lies behind much of what is happening. This angle isn’t getting covered by the mainstream media, but seems hugely relevant.